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Calc III freshman year

  1. Mar 17, 2010 #1
    hey guys, i need some advice as to which math class to enroll in.
    i just got accepted to college and will be starting first semester of freshman year in september.
    i will be a math major, and i am really comfortable with math. So right now, i am in ap calc BC and i am confident that i can get a 5 on the AP test, which means i will be able to skip calc I and II. Being new to college, i'm not sure if starting with calc III right away is a good idea, since its a higher level math class and i don't want to fail, so i'm thinking if i should take calc II. But then again, i don't want to waste time learning things i already know.

    is calc III easy enough to take first semester freshman year? any advice/comments will be appreciated.
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 17, 2010 #2
    How are your grades right now? Are you confident that you can put in the time necessary to make up the gaps? You may have to find help from your professor / TAs in order to learn what you need to learn. Are you confident that you'll be able to do that?

    Also, what are your goals with your degree? GPA is always important of course, but it's more important for getting a PhD than for most other things, for example. Are you willing to risk your GPA to be able to take an extra upper level course or two during school?

    I took BC calc and went straight to calc 3 in college. I think my background was fine, I just wasn't ready for college level courses when I started, and I was also starting in sophomore physics at the same time. I didn't get the grades freshman year that I should have and that I ended up getting my other years. I'm glad I went straight to calc 3 though, because it allowed me to double major and minor in 8 semesters. The double major has proven more helpful than a higher GPA would have been. It all depends on what you want to do though, and I had freshman friends in class with me who did get As.
  4. Mar 17, 2010 #3
    Oh, and it varies by school of course, but from my experience calc 2 is considered the hardest. Calc 3 at my school was an extension of the easier parts of calc 1 and 2 to multiple dimensions, which I didn't have a problem with. I was lacking on calc 2 knowledge when it came to my physics courses though... the AP calc 2 content didn't cover everything we used in physics. I scored a 5 on the BC exam.
  5. Mar 17, 2010 #4
    Calc 3 is not "upper level math." It's another easy peasy computation class. as to what kote says, that really depends. if you're a visual thinker and good at geometry etc., then calc 3 will be easier than calc 2. but if you struggle with visualizing things and are better at algebra, then calc 2 is a walk in the park next to calc 3.
  6. Mar 17, 2010 #5
    This statement is realtive
  7. Mar 17, 2010 #6
    I would recommend taking Calc 2. It might be easy for you depending on your background, but college is a bit of a transition so it can't hurt to play it safe. Also, there is a lot of background material that students struggle with and forget in Calc 2, especially near the end of the course. Getting a solid foundation is more important than progressing through your courses more quickly. If you really feel like overachieving, you can ask your professor if there are any advanced problems that connect to the material but let you take it a step further.
  8. Mar 17, 2010 #7
    Depends...If your a math major and Calc II is a rigorous, proof-based course, then go ahead and take it. If the Calc II course is a weeder "math for engineers" course, then it should be just like high school calculus except that the exam questions are harder. Calc III, IMO, is much easier than Calc I or II, since you will be learning calculus a second time around, except with more variables.
  9. Mar 18, 2010 #8
    I'll chime in on the "just take Calc III side," but bubbles is right that if you're a math major and you can take a more rigorous Calc I/II sequence, you might want to do that. I don't buy into the "ease into college with courses you've already taken" idea -- total waste of money, and if your grades sag a bit in the first semester it's no big deal. You can pick up any bits of material you might have missed when you actually need it, rather than wasting your time on a bunch of stuff you already know.
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